Advanced search

Is an arts degree from Oxbridge useless?

(134 Posts)
Whitlandcarm Sat 03-Feb-18 19:03:21

I mean something like Archaeology, or History or Anthropology, HPS specialising in Sociology etc

Would it be better to get into a “lesser” university to study something like Economics, Law etc?

Some Oxbridge courses seem to have average grad salaries of as low as £22k. Is there something effecting these figures such as people going into further study, part time work etc?

goodbyestranger Sat 03-Feb-18 19:40:54

I've had two of my DC graduate so far with a useless Oxford Arts degree (both History). One is doing a PhD fully funded by the ESRC (admittedly not a top whack income but top whack as far as these things go). The other has just turned down an investment bank grad scheme job that he'd originally accepted, in favour of one of the two Magic Circle Training Contracts he was offered over the Christmas period. GDL and LPC all paid for then a silly salary while training followed by an even sillier one two years later (if the firm takes him on as associate). He's currently getting a suntan on a very, very smart island in the Caribbean to see him through the sunless classrooms of the GDL, and being paid handsomely to do so (tutoring). By contrast the DC who has just passed his last ever Oxford medical exam a few days ago will go onto a meanie salary in an F1 post in a few months time (when back from New Zealand and Bali). The two DC who are Oxford law graduates are admittedly doing very comfortably in terms of income/ job satisfaction too. Conclusion: no, all Oxford degrees are fine especially if you make the most of them.

BubblesBuddy Sat 03-Feb-18 21:29:19

I think it rather depends on the career objectives and whether the grad really wants a high level grad job. Some don’t. Some go and work in charities or local government. That means a lower salary.

You should also do the subject you are good at. If you are not interested in Law, don’t do it. Ditto Economics. It would drive you crazy if you really preferred something else. Also if you are committed to your subject and brilliant at it, Oxbridge would like to hear from you. If you aren’t that bothered about studying Anthropology at Oxford then go and do Law at Bournemouth if that floats your boat. However salary shouldn’t really affect what you study if you know it’s the subject for you.

goodbyestranger Sat 03-Feb-18 21:48:04

Yes. An Oxbridge degree in any subject is well regarded and that gives choice, is the point I was trying to make. That opens the door to very poorly paid careers which may happen to be hugely interesting and rewarding to some, also to very lucrative careers which might work better for others. It's quite hard to go wrong provided a student makes the right choice of subject at the outset or they'll have a bloody few years and almost certainly won't do well, which is pretty critical at the exit end no matter whether it's an Oxbridge degree or any other degree.

BonnieF Sat 03-Feb-18 21:53:08

Given that the majority of the cabinet, almost the entire senior ranks of the civil service, the legal profession and the national media have Oxbridge arts degrees, the evidence would suggest they have their uses....

rightsaidfrederickII Sat 03-Feb-18 23:27:14

Truly, I've heard it all now

LoniceraJaponica Sat 03-Feb-18 23:30:56

A degree in history or geography has transferable skills, so I would imagine it would open a lot of doors. I know a student who will be doing history with a view to working for the MOD after graduating.

OutyMcOutface Sat 03-Feb-18 23:34:23

It's always better to do a professional degree because you can use it to pursue a profession but be wary of law degrees. The number of jaw students to pupilages/training contracts is way too high these days. A lot of law students don't get jobs these days so with law it really does have to be a Russel group uni. A first class arts from oxbridge still had value but a second class oxbridge arts degree isn't useful unless you are planing to be one a teacher in the subject you took there.

OutyMcOutface Sat 03-Feb-18 23:38:36

Oh, and 1st class arts from oxbridge plus GDL is better than 2:2 in law from oxbridge in case that isn't obvious.

Glitterbaby17 Sat 03-Feb-18 23:40:02

I think arts degrees will always have lower average salaries than some others, but that’s not the only indication of success. I studied history at Oxbridge and am now a senior manager at a charity I feel passionate about. Would I have earned more doing law, absolutely! However it wasn’t my passion and so for me chasing the salary wouldn’t have been the best option.

Bekabeech Sun 04-Feb-18 04:42:21

A friend's daughter has a degree from Oxbridge in History of Art, which is one of the worst paying subjects.
Would she have earnt more studying Economics somewhere else? Yes if she'd completed the degree, but that wasn't what she was interested in.
But with her degree she at least has a hope one day of doing what does interest her - which is curate at an Art Gallery. She will not get rich that way but could get self-fulfilment.

Cavender Sun 04-Feb-18 05:23:14

There are no “useless” degrees from a good university.

There are all sorts of things you can do with a good arts degree.

I’m friends with twin sisters, both received good degrees at an RG university one in science, one in arts.

The one with the arts degree earns multiples of her sister’s salary.

It all depends what you make of it.

RedHelenB Sun 04-Feb-18 06:19:12

So depressing that the only measure of success is money. My children want to go to uni to learn more about the things that interest them. Dd 2 certainly is nt chasing a high paying job working crazy hours.

ShackUp Sun 04-Feb-18 08:28:45

I've got a music degree from Oxford. The 'worth' of a degree isn't measured in earning potential confused can you tell I'm a teacher and don't earn much?

goodbyestranger Sun 04-Feb-18 10:00:32

RedHelenB it's only the OP which suggests success is measured by salary. Almost all the other posts are coming from a different angle. If any of my DC happen to end up on big salaries that's certainly incidental to the main event, which is trying to find a career they enjoy, for whatever other reason. Going to a top university and doing well at that university creates those choices, whatever the subject.

TryAgainAndAgain Sun 04-Feb-18 10:07:38

This is such a Mumsnet post thread.😂

LoniceraJaponica Sun 04-Feb-18 10:48:39

I know what you mean. I suspect that the parents with non Oxbridge would-bes don't post on here. Some posters have multiple children who are so academically bright that they have all been or are going to Oxbridge, and make us mere mortals feel inadequate.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 04-Feb-18 10:56:49

What do you mean by 'better' Whitl? The best degree is one that allows someone to follow something they are really interested in, not just for the duration of the degree but beyond.

Money is not a measure of success, happiness is.

Butterymuffin Sun 04-Feb-18 11:14:37

Dictating what subject your child should do at university doesn't end well. Let them choose.

And the 'top uni' talk on here really is getting ridiculous now. We've already got to the point where anything beyond the Russell Group brings shame on the family hmm but now apparently Oxbridge isn't necessarily good enough? Blimey.

LoniceraJaponica Sun 04-Feb-18 11:52:24

"Money is not a measure of success, happiness is."

This ^^
I have professional qualifications, but work part time in a low paid job. I don't even earn enough to pay income tax smile
BUT I love my work/life balance. I can pick DD up from school if she stays behind for extra classes (rural area, so once the school bus leaves at 3 getting home is difficult)

I have time to keep on top of household chores, garden, see my friends, do some volunteering, go shopping and take exercise classes. I also love my job - probably because I am only there 2 days a week.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 04-Feb-18 12:31:50

and that is a successful life I reckon Lonicera smile

goodbyestranger Sun 04-Feb-18 15:21:58

Lonicera there are a lot of sibling clusters at Oxford and Cambridge - really a lot - and parents of those DC will tend to post on Oxbridge threads rather than other threads, because that's where they have something to add. Obviously a family where DC have all graduated from Oxford or Cambridge and where several have decided on lower paid careers and some of higher ones but not necessarily along subject divisions is directly relevant to the OP. No-one intends to make anyone feel inadequate any more than anywhere else on MN. I don't take a swipe at people posting that they're incredibly tall or have a 36E bust on fashion threads or at those who post about their huge income and lavish holidays on AIBU etc, I just don't dwell on it!

goodbyestranger Sun 04-Feb-18 15:23:48

Buttery I used the phrase top uni not the OP and I'd include a number of other unis in that description, but not necessarily all courses at all RG unis. It's an elastic term, certainly not limited to Oxford and Cambridge.

goodbyestranger Sun 04-Feb-18 15:26:22

Posted too soon. And since the OP is about careers in terms of earning potential and opportunities, it's naive to deny the fact that having particular unis on a CV helps in a way that having been at certain other unis helps less.

QueenAravisOfArchenland Sun 04-Feb-18 15:26:26

The country is literally bloody run by people with arts degrees from Oxbridge. Do you think most of Westminster have degrees in the hard sciences? Nnnnnnnope. (Which is something of a problem in itself.) The City is being substantially run by them too.

You can do literally anything with an arts degree from Oxbridge. But, you know, god forbid that people might be going into perfectly good grad jobs which only pay 22k to begin with.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: